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King of Killers series begins filming in Regina this fall

King of Killers: the series to receive $8 million from Creative Saskatchewan to shoot at the Regina soundstage beginning this fall.

REGINA — The first major big-budget TV production receiving funds under the new Creative Saskatchewan grant has been announced.

The production is called King of Killers: the series, and it is set to start filming this fall at the John Hopkins Regina Soundstage.

The project is receiving $8 million in funding from the Creative Saskatchewan Feature Film and Television Production Grant Program, a program that received a major infusion of funding in the 2022 provincial budget after several lean years. 

The province increased Creative Saskatchewan’s funding in that budget from $2 million up to $10 million, and a good chunk of that will now be going to this production, which is getting the go-ahead due to the significant impact it is expected to bring to the economy.

According to the province, the expectation is the production will employ 100 crew members and 18 performers from Saskatchewan. The show is a Saskatchewan-Manitoba co-production by Saskatchewan-based Anand Ramayya and Kelly Balon of Karma Film Inc. and Juliette Hagopian of Manitoba’s Julijette Inc., The series is developed and executive produced by Christopher Rush Harrington and Michael Hamilton Wright of Dovetail Media.

Government officials at the launch announcement in Regina Friday were excited, as they anticipate this is just the first of what will be many new productions using the Creative Saskatchewan grant.

“This is a very exciting time here in Saskatchewan,” said Laura Ross, minister of Parks, Culture and Sport, in speaking to reporters.

“We made the commitment of a substantial amount of money for this production because we knew this was really going to kickstart how people are going to view what Saskatchewan has to offer.”

Years earlier, Saskatchewan had offered the Film Tax Credit which was used to attract major film and TV productions, but that was eliminated in 2012. Ross called the current Creative Saskatchewan funding “way better.”

“Before, money left the province,” said Ross. With this grant, “all the money has to stay in the province of Saskatchewan, so the taxpayers of Saskatchewan will be benefitting from this in that the money that is invested in the industry stays here in Saskatchewan.”

Erin Dean, CEO of Creative Saskatchewan, said the big difference is not necessarily in the program, but in viewer habits now.

“People are subscribing to more streaming services and the way they set themselves apart is with unique content. So, there’s more demand for production than ever before. Audiences are watching more content than ever before. So, it was just a new opportunity for this province to dive into this industry, have more production coming to Saskatchewan, and we’re really excited to see that happening.”

Dean anticipates the labour for this particular show to come from crew returning to Saskatchewan who may have been working in other jurisdictions, and there will be opportunities for new crew as well.

The production is expected to spend $20 million in Saskatchewan on local labour, goods and services. It’s expected $5 million will be spent on Saskatchewan labour expenses.

Dean told reporters that to date Creative Saskatchewan has funded 13 productions, but this is the biggest. What stood out for them about this project is that this is a series, which she said represents a high volume of work. 

It means the soundstage will be a hub of activity over the next several months. The series will use the Regina soundstage for 90 production days, and then 120 post-production days. 

While this series will take up much of the $10 million in the Creative Saskatchewan fund, Dean said there is still funding available.

“We’re still working with other productions who have demonstrated interest in coming to Saskatchewan and particularly about what resources we have left and how we can make that happen,” said Dean. “The program’s open, we still continue to accept applications.”

Producer welcomes the funding

Producing the King of Killers series is Anand Ramayya of Karma Film Inc. out of Saskatoon. He welcomes what he believes will be a new era for creative industries in Saskatchewan after some lean times during the past decade. 

“We’ve all had challenges over the years, but we’re back in a growth phase. And I as an entrepreneur and as a producer can start thinking about growth instead of just maintaining the status quo, and for me that’s really exciting. And this project specifically, it’s large enough that we can employ and train and build new skills. And the other piece of this is we’re bringing in a brand-new piece of technology. We’re going to have cutting edge technology that is going to be competitive globally. And we’re going to make good use of this very unique competitive advantage we have, which is the soundstage. 

“There is no sound studio space available across North America. Stages are booked up for four years in advance. We’re in the middle of a content boom, and I’m just thrilled we’re back in the game and we can start to see those type of shows being made here.”

Production will use a massive LED wall technology

The “cutting edge technology” Ramayya is referring to is their plans to build a massive LED wall at the soundstage. It is basically a large screen that is able to display digital content, and it will be used in the making of the TV series. 

Ken Alecxe, executive director at Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association, describes it as “green screen on steroids.” He said the wall can import any images representing anywhere in the world, including moving images. “You want a Brooklyn streetscape, you want the Sahara desert, it’s there. You don’t have to take your entire crew and import them to Egypt to make that shot.”

The exciting news is that the King of Killers producers want to make this LED wall available to other productions by leasing it out from the soundstage. The thinking is this could give Saskatchewan a competitive advantage over other jurisdictions.

“It’s another revenue opportunity, and it will be state of the art,” said Alecxe. “There are some other LED walls in Canada, not many. This one will be the best. When it’s built, it will be the best available, best technology.”

That is one selling point for the province as a centre of production. Alecxe also says producers are liking the way the Creative Saskatchewan grant is set up, in that the production gets 80 per cent of their Saskatchewan spend up front, not two years down the road. 

Alexce called the arrival of the King of Killers production “exactly what we made the case for for the last three years.” He said they had made a business case for the increased funding, stressing the benefits of jobs, procurement and so on. “Our membership has increased overnight from 140 to 230. And it’s just going to grow.”

In her remarks at the launch, Ross said the Creative Saskatchewan grant helps support the province’s Growth Plan by increasing the province’s labour force, the technology sector, tourism and spin-off benefits for the hospitality and support services.

About the show

Distribution for the King of Killers TV series is being handled by Roman Kopelevich and Roman Viaris of Red Sea Media. The plan is to look for markets to sell the series to around the world so it reaches a wide audience. 

The series is based on the King of Killers feature film, which itself was based on the graphic novel of the same title. The film was shot in Manitoba and is currently in post-production; the plan is for a 2023 release. 

The movie is an action-thriller focusing on a group of international assassins competing for the title King of Killers. The TV series, which will be shot entirely in Saskatchewan, will be along the same lines, but there are plans to go more in-depth in looking at the lives of the assassins. 

“Our series digs into the backstories and the genesis of these characters, whether overcoming a tough childhood or whatever their backstory was,” said Ramayya. The main character is an elite secret agent who’s “very violent, but he is this fragile complicated character who is trying to become the best version of himself.”

“I think you’ll want to follow him as he gets into all sorts of high-octane situations. So it’s that kind of show, it’s pure entertainment. Great story, great characters, lots of action and very international in scope …  the show is here, and it’s going to benefit Regina and Saskatchewan and the community, but it’s going to look very international because of the way we’re shooting it.”

Much of the cast is not in place yet, but one of their stars is Alain Moussi, a Canadian actor who has numerous movie credits as a martial arts performer. 

Moussi looks forward to working on the series in Saskatchewan, and is particularly excited about working alongside the LED wall. 

“The sky is the limit. And I’m just actually getting into it now, this is brand new for me as well. So I’m really excited about the possibilities because the more I learn about it, the more ideas I have to make this show bigger … I feel like the way we are going to attack this is that virtual production is going to allow us to make this larger than life.”

As for what people can expect when they tune in, “they can expect a lot of entertainment,” said Moussi.

“We want to bring a lot of action into this, some comedy. It’s not gonna be a one note show, it’s going to be an every note show… Expect big stunts, big action, interesting characters, everything bouncing off the walls.

“We want to bring a lot of action into this, some comedy. It’s not gonna be a one-note show, it’s going to be an every-note show … Expect big stunts, big action, interesting characters, everything bouncing off the walls.”



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